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CRESST II Postbac Program

A growing group of researchers within CRESST II and NASA/GSFC are those who have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree, also known as a postbac. Postbacs come to NASA/GSFC at an exciting and pivotal juncture in their careers. For most of them, this is their first experience working full-time in the research field and being exposed to a breadth of projects and opportunities available to them. We at CRESST II want to help our postbacs be better prepared for their future careers, leading us to establish the CRESST II Postbac Program.

Postbac Program Mission

Our mission is to “create a voluntary program for postbac scientists to become better prepared for the next steps in their career”. To fulfill our mission, we are highlighting the following four main areas: mentoring, networking, skill building, and preparing for graduate school. These four areas served as the basis for the creation of all the CRESST II postbac events which have been held from September 2020 to July 2021. Additional details about past and future postbac events can be found below.


If you are a recent graduate interested in our postbac program, contact CRESST II Program Associate for more information. All open postbac positions are posted on our Scientific Research Opportunities page or you can be added to the mailing list to receive updates on available positions by contacting CRESST II Program Associate.


If you are a CRESST II or NASA/GSFC employee and are interested serving as a topic expert for our events, a mentor, etc., contact CRESST II Program Associate for more information.


Postbac Program Welcome Event – September 2020

All postbacs and their sponsors were invited to attend the inaugural Postbac Program Welcome Event. The event allowed the postbacs to meet one another, learn about upcoming events, receive advice from past postbacs, and ask any questions.






UMCP Graduate School Application Workshop – October 2020


Postbacs joined UMCP students for a workshop on the graduate school application workshop hosted by UMCP Professor, Dr. Melissa Hayes-Gehrke. Dr. Hayes-Gehrke detailed how to decide what graduate schools to apply to, average graduate school acceptance rates and expectations, general components of an application, and how to decide which school to attend.





Goal Planning Session and Mid-year Check-in – October 2020, March 2021 and July 2021

Postbacs were given the opportunity to receive a one-on-one goal planning session with Dr. Lee Mundy, the CRESST II Director and Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of Maryland, College Park. The session allowed postbacs to talk through their future goals and receive guidance and feedback from an established professor, researcher, and program administrator. Dr. Mundy and the postbacs met again in March 2021 to discuss their progress in a mid-year check-in and for a final time in July 2021.




Personal Statement and Fellowship Event – January 2021

Representatives from the UMCP Career Center and Writing Center discussed in detail the format of a graduate school personal statement and requirements of applying for fellowships. Postbacs left with a better understanding of how to structure a personal statement and received information on the several national fellowships available to them.






Career Path Panel – February 2021


Postbacs as well as NASA spring interns and CRESST II affiliated university students were invited to attend the CRESST II Career Path Panel. The panel included four panelists who discussed the different paths they have taken with their astronomy and physics degrees. The invited panelists included representatives from private industry, defense, and NASA government contractors working in research and education/outreach. Students learned more about the similarities and differences of working in each sector and the many diverse pathways open to them.




Ins and Outs of Writing and Submitting a Scientific Paper - April 2021


An established scientist and a Ph.D. student talked through the chronological order from writing to publishing a scientific paper. Postbacs were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the paper writing process.











Conference Poster – May 2021


The event was hosted by a Public Affairs Officer in the Office of Communications who gave the postbacs advice on how to design, develop, and create and effective conference poster by balancing their research with graphic design.











Postback Snack and Chat – June 2021


Postbacs were given the opportunity to submit any feedback about the program and give recommendations on the program moving forward. Postbacs were also able to discuss where their next career step for the fall.










CRESST II is looking forward to the next year of the CRESST II Postbac Program which will begin in September 2021.




Updated: 2021-Jul-27

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